A Vintage Collectible: The History Behind FFA Jackets

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In the vintage collectors' world, there are certain pieces that stand out from the rest. Such is the case with FFA jackets—a national blue corduroy jacket adorned with corn gold stitching and awarded pins. Where did this iconic collectible originate from? 

via Ohio Cooperative Living

The Origins of Future Farmers of America

FFA stands for "Future Farmers of America"; a student organization that focuses on agricultural education. The organization's official name is now called the 'National FFA Organization', and has been around since 1928. There are three levels to this organization: 

1. Local FFA Chapters
2. State FFA Associations
3. National FFA Organization

For more information about these levels, click here.

Official Dress and Rise of the Iconic Jacket

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The first National FFA Convention took place in 1929 Kansas City. During this time, national blue and corn gold were adopted as official FFA colours. It was a year later when the first Official Dress uniform was adopted: members were to wear a dark blue shirt, blue or white pants, a blue cap, and yellow tie. 

It wasn't until 1933 when FFA advisor Gus Lintner saw a blue corduroy jacket in a store window in Fredericktown, Ohio, where he developed the idea to have his chapter's name stitched on the back of the jacket with gold thread. He connected with the jacket supplier, Universal Uniform Company, to do just that. 

Shortly thereafter, the members of Lintner's chapter (Fredericktown FFA) all had a corduroy jacket of their own and debuted them at the National FFA Convention that year. The jackets became so popular the the convention's official delegates made them a part of the official FFA attire.

Ever since then, more than 3 million FFA jackets have been distributed across the country, across all state associations.

Rules of Official Dress

To this day, every FFA jacket follows regulations of the Official Dress:

1. The name of the state is to appear over the emblem, and the chapter stitched below the emblem. 
2. Award pins can be earned for the jackets, however, one should never exceed putting three pins at the front.
3. The awards worn should represent the highest degree earned, the highest office held, and the highest award earned by the member.
4. If the jackets are ever sold to a non-FFA member, all emblems and awards must be removed.
5. FFA members should wear the official FFA jacket zipped to the top.

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Differences Between Vintage and New

To distinguish vintage FFA jackets from newer jackets, older versions had snap buttons instead of zippers, embroidered emblems instead of sewn on patch emblems, and square pockets rather than rounded pockets. Earlier versions had the individual's name embroidered with a hand-operated sewing machine, while newer versions use computerized sewing machines. The wording on the emblem also changed from "Vocational Agriculture" to "Agricultural Education" in 1988.

FFA jackets are special: the jackets unify members, reminds them they're a part of something larger than themselves, and have been a long-standing method to represent the past and future of agriculture.